As RTC begins to wrap up our month-long feature of Florida, we wanted to highlight a few of the great ways the state’s trail systems are impacting economic growth and infrastructure development in their communities.
Orange County Trail Study Reveals Multi-Million Dollar Impact
We were totally floored to hear about this report recently released by the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, titled “Economic Impact of Orange County Trails, Florida.”
The incredible takeaway here is this: It was determined that three trails—the Cady Way and West Orange trails, and the Little Econ Greenway—had an estimated economic impact of $42.6 million and created 516 jobs for Orange County and downtown Winter Garden in 2010! Incredible…but not surprising!
Bridging Tallahassee’s Greenways
We also wanted to mention the 74,800-pound bridge that was recently put in place across the CSX railroad tracks along the Lafayette Heritage Trail—linking this trail to the J.R. Alford Greenway. The project provides a safe and vital link in the Tallahassee Greenway and Trail System!
FYI: The bridge is also part of an 847-foot boardwalk that will allow trail users a path directly into the surrounding tree canopy, where they can enjoy some really great views of the area and of Lake Piney Z.
New Pinellas Trail Project Promises “Triple” Impact
Special thanks to Richard Valentine, secretary of Pinellas Trails, Inc., for providing an update on some developments taking place with regard to one of Florida’s most-popular trails. The Metropolitan Planning Organizations of three counties are collaborating on a Tri-County Trail Project that will connect each of the county’s trails into one big multi-use system.
Here are more details from Valentine, who is also a volunteer for the Public Relations Advisory Action Committee in Dunedin, a city that experienced economic revitalization following the creation of the Pinellas Trail in the early 1990s:
“The route will connect the existing Starkey Boulevard Trail in Pasco County with the existing Pinellas Trail extensions currently under construction on East Lake Road and Keystone Road in Pinellas County. The trail would ultimately provide a connection between existing trails in Pinellas and Pasco counties, and would link to Hillsborough, Hernando and Citrus counties—providing access to one continuous multi-use trail.
“The trail system will definitely have an impact on the area in terms of the ‘quality of life’ quotient. We [Dunedin PRAAC] man a tent at the Dunedin Downtown Green Market.... I've talked to people from as far away as Massachusetts and Oregon who have come to Dunedin specifically because they heard of the trail. I've also talked to people who have recently moved to Dunedin, and invariably one of the selling points [for choosing Dunedin] has been the trail...in addition to the beaches and the quaint downtown. The existence of the trail has played a major part in Dunedin becoming a destination, and I think the same thing can happen to communities along the routes of the Tri-County system.”